Premier League Players Kneel in Support of Black Lives Matter

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Players across the Premier League kneeled on the field in the opening seconds of their first matches back on Wednesday.

The Aston Villa-Sheffield United and Manchester City-Arsenal games marked the first Premier League matches since March 9 due to the COVID-19 crisis. Players throughout the Premier League are also sporting jerseys with "Black Lives Matter," written on the back in place of their names throughout the first round of games following the coronavirus suspension.

The first instance came at Villa Park, when Aston Villa and Sheffield United kneeled, along with the match officials, after the first whistle was blown.

Players for Manchester City and Arsenal also kneeled before their match on Wednesday afternoon, following a moment of silence for the lives lost to the COVID-19 crisis. One of those was Pep Guardiola's mother.

Wednesday's decision to kneel came out of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd, who was killed in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. Floyd was stopped by officer Derek Chauvin, who placed his knee on Floyd's neck for over eight minutes. Floyd can be heard on video saying "I can't breathe," multiple times before his death.

Chauvin has been fired and charged with second-degree murder. Three other officers have been charged with aiding and abetting murder for their role in Floyd's death. 

"Aston Villa and Sheffield United were proud to stand in solidarity with the actions of the players and coaching staff of both football clubs during the first ten seconds of tonight’s Premier League fixture, expressing our collective support for the Black Lives Matter movement," Aston Villa said in a statement. "In the first Premier League fixture of Project Restart both clubs hope that the act of ‘taking a knee’ will send a strong message of unity and amplify the many messages of support from Premier League players and the wider football family."